A Consomme Recipe That You’ll Never Try

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Published: 24th October 2012
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I’ll admit it. You’ll never try this consommé recipe. Even my students in culinary college will make it once and probably never again. I try to bring you the best aspects of cooking and make it simple. But, there’s no way to make this clear and flavorful broth easily. It’s a professional level skill reserved only for the finest restaurants.

If you do attempt it, you’ll be amazed at the cooking science that goes on in your stock pot. You’ll start with a cloudy stock and end up with something that’s as clear as water but tastes like the best broth you’ve ever had. Is it worth the effort?

Consommé is a stock or broth that has been clarified to remove impurities so that it is crystal clear.
A well made consommé should be rich in the flavor of the stock, so an excellent stock is absolutely necessary to start with.

The first consideration is that a high gelatin content in your original stock gives the best final result. The only way to assure this is to make your own beef, chicken or fish stock starting with the bones of the animal. These bones contain collagen, and through heat and moisture it turns into gelatin. You know you have a high gelatin content when your cooled stock is jiggly like Jell-O.

It’s really not the consommé recipe that’s important, but the procedure that will dictate a cloudy mess or a clear success. The final product should be clear with no trace of fat. Starting with a cold stock that is grease free is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of screwing this up.

The cold stock will be clarified by the addition of “clearmeat”. This culinary term refers to the combination of egg whites, ground meat, carrots, onion, celery, and an acidic product like tomato or wine. Once it comes to a soft simmer, the clearmeat acts like a filter and catches all the impurities in the original liquid.

This is the science behind making a perfectly clear broth from stock. The egg whites and ground meat are proteins, and as they coagulate they form a “raft” on the top of the liquid. The liquid simmers, rises through the raft, cools and falls back down. The raft strains the stock and adds some of their flavors to the finished product.

After an hour or so of simmering, it should be carefully strained through cheesecloth and blotted with a paper towel to remove any excess fat. This should result in a perfectly clear liquid that has the intense flavor of chicken, beef, or fish; the original flavor of the stock without the impurities.

The consommé recipe I teach in culinary college is for 1 gallon of finished product. It calls for 5 quarts of stock, 10 egg whites, 2 pounds of ground meat, and one pound of mire poix (“meer-pwah”), which is finely diced carrots, onion, and celery.

This is not an average household cook skill; it’s quite difficult and very delicate. The consommé should never be allowed to reach a full rolling boil. This will break up the protein raft and cause the opposite effect. You’ll make the original stock even cloudier.

Once the raft forms, DO NOT STIR. Again, any agitation will disrupt your egg white and ground meat “filter” and give the opposite result of what you’ve been looking for.

It’s not a consommé recipe you should be looking for, but a procedure for making this classical French culinary item. So, here’s my procedure:

1) Start with a well-made cold stock that is full of gelatin. Remove any fat floating on top with a spoon and assure that it has no other “floaties” or impurities at the very beginning.

2) Starting with a COLD soup or stock pot, add 5 quarts of the stock along with 10 egg whites, 2 pounds of ground meat, 1 pound of mire poix and 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir all ingredients together.

3) Add heat from the stove top, but at a very low flame or setting on your electric stove. The ingredients should slowly come to a soft simmer. If you allow it to boil, all is lost!

4) You’ll notice the raft forming shortly before you see the characteristic bubbles of a simmer. Do not disturb the raft in any way, just let it do its job of filtering the stock.

5) Simmer very gently and softly for at least 1 hour and then LADLE the liquid from the stock pot through a strainer with cheesecloth. Do not pour the stock through the strainer as you’ll undo everything you’ve been working toward. This will return the liquid to a cloudy state.

6) Chill the finished liquid and remove any excess fat with a paper towel or a spoon once it’s cold enough to congeal.

Now, you can use this as an ingredient for any chicken, beef, or fish soup you’d like by adding vegetables, noodles or grains to your desire.

If you’re excited to witness food science, you’ll love making this consommé recipe. However, if you’re frustrated and impatient with the cooking process, this is something you’ll never try. And, that’s a shame because it could be the most flavorful soup you’ve ever tasted. It will shock your diners at how clear the liquid is, but still packs a great punch.

See the video from culinary college that explains why this is a Consomme Recipe That You’ll Never Try

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